Turkey will support Myanmar gov't solutions for Rohingyas, FM says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 13.06.2016 20:25

Turkey supports positive steps taken by the new government in Myanmar for a solution to the problems faced by the Muslim Rohingya community and wants to engage in close cooperation with the community, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday at a joint press conference with Myanmar's foreign minister while in Naypyidaw.

Indicating that Turkey welcomes the new government's initiatives to solve the problems in the Rohingya community and grant them the right to citizenship, Çavuşoğlu said: "We want to be in close cooperation with the central government in solution for the problems of Muslims here. We will support positive steps that are taken."

Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide victory in November elections, ushering in the country's first civilian government after 54 years of direct and indirect military rule. Both the police and the judiciary are overseen by Myanmar's Home Ministry, which remains under control of the military.

Despite her massive popular support, the 70-year-old Suu Kyi is blocked from the presidency because the constitution bars anyone with a foreign spouse or children from holding the executive office. The NLD nominated, from the lower house, Htin Kyaw, a longtime confidante and associate of Suu Kyi. He was elected as the country's new president on March 14.

"Turkey will maintain its humanitarian assistance to Myanmar and the Rakhine region in particular," Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the country will keep doing this regardless of ethnicity, language or religion.

He also said that Turkey has provided $13 million in financial support to Myanmar in the form of humanitarian, education and medical assistance in the last four years.

Myanmar State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi conveyed her gratitude to Turkey for the country's sensitivity to the Rohingya population and called on the international community to show the same attitude for progress for a solution to the problem.

Çavuşoğlu also held meetings with the President Kyaw along with the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing yesterday. He is scheduled to meet with the members of the Rohingya community and to visit the Thayet War Cemetery, which is one of the two burial grounds erected in memory of Ottoman soldiers in Myanmar.

Turkey has been closely following the situation faced by Muslims in Myanmar; specifically the Rohingyas, since 2012. The Turkish government had previously sent a navy ship to the coast off Thailand and Malaysia to carry humanitarian aid to the thousands of stranded Rohingyas.

While economic and trade relations between Turkey and Myanmar are limited, diplomatic sources have noted that the primary goal of Çavuşoğlu's visit is to enhance economic cooperation between the two countries. Government officials from both countries will also discuss ways to diversify relations in every field.

After official visits to Myanmar, Çavuşoğlu will head to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan where he is expected to hold meetings with those countries' foreign ministers.

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